Greetings from Dr. Hurley and Co.

To our dear, devoted Snake-Oilers,

We have languished in your absence (and ours!) in the past weeks, but are thrilled to reappear today, having shaken off the summer’s dust! Dr. Hurley’s tinkerers have been hard at work in this space and today marks the Snake-Oil Cure‘s first, halting, creeping steps out of the chrysalis of redesign. We hope you enjoy the spruced-up aesthetic and streamlined navigation. Do let us know how you like our new appearance! There are likely to be further changes over the coming weeks as we settle into our new (Snake) skin, but we will not disappear again!

The Doctor has asked us to advise you of one further change to his Prescription. Ever a proponent of moderation in all things (especially the good ones), the Doctor has directed us to publish fewer works each week in the hope that scarcity will highlight the quality of these works. Our new publishing schedule will be, roughly, new works on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and the traditional Sunday digest.

The intention is NOT to wean you from the Snake-Oil Cure‘s tedium-conquering powers, but rather to distill a more potent remedy and, further, to combat tedium by increasing your appetite through anticipation.

That being said, do send along your best works – all formats are welcome as always – and your best friends, both to read and to write in service of Dr. Hurley’s mission:

to attack tedium in all its forms, to root out its deteriorating influences, and prescribe our patients a course of healing that will lead them back to vitality, interest, health, and youth.

Best and warmest regards from

Your Editors

on behalf of

Dr. Seamus Hurley

Dr. Hurley’s Summer Contest Series № 2: Wet/Dry

Dear Snake-Oil devotees,

The doctor has informed us that he is inspired by the extremes of weather we have been experiencing around the world this Summer. While on a research mission, we, the Editors, experienced a taste of England’s Worst Summer Ever – by which they mean rain, floods, cold, and damp. Meanwhile, the States are experiencing history’s worst-ever drought. Where England’s strawberries and potatoes are rotting in the ground, America’s waves of proverbial amber grain are shriveling under an ever-hotter sun.

Never one to despair, Dr. Hurley has chosen to assign these phenomena as the basis of his next Summer Short-Short contest! Send us 100 words of fiction about Rain or Drought (or other major meteorological phenomenon if you’re in a more wintry clime) by next Sunday, July 29!

Hop to, writerly friends! We look forward to your scribblings!

Sincerely yours,

EEJ & DLR, Eds.

Hurley Pulp: The Storm-Collector

he sky was the color of a three-day-old bruise. A strong wind gave new life to discarded papers. My sister and I dashed into the house as a sharp crack announced an apocalyptic downpour. I noticed something strange as I shut the door—a man stood alone in the street, holding a bottle up to the sky.

I ran to the window, but he was gone. I thought I’d imagined him. It wasn’t until I saw his photo on an ad for Snake-Oil Cure that I realized that Dr. Hurley was the man I’d seen that day, collecting the storm.

Mary Mann

Hurley Pulp: The Wilde Adventures of Dr. Seamus Hurley


re you sure about this, Doc?”

“It’ll be grand, Parker”.

Parker buttoned her coat and stood tall. With a belly-aching upward motion, the airship began to rise, and Dr. Hurley puffed his chest out like a pluming bird. He steered for a while. Parker lurched around.

“You really think we can make it to France in two hours?” Below them, the Scottish countryside was a patchwork quilt.

Hurley pointed at the lever, and Parker clicked it into place. Cogs turned, and flames licked at the side of the ship, pushing them forward.

“Well,” Hurley said. “Someone’s got to rescue old Oscar.”

Daniel Le Ray

Hurley Pulp: L. A. General


was standing at the psych ward’s intake desk before I realized I might not be insane.

“It’s that damn tonic, isn’t it?” I asked.

“Also it’s one hundred proof,” said Doc. “You get your money’s worth.”

The nurse tapped her pen. “A lot of you head cases talk to yourselves, but mostly you don’t walk yourselves in.”

“She can’t see you,” I said.

I think Doc grinned. It was hard to tell under all that mustache.

The nurse whistled for an orderly.

“Time to go,” I said.

“Let’s stay,” Doc said. “This will be fun.”

The orderly had no neck. His eyes were right between his clavicles.

“Big fella,” I said.

Doc kicked him in the testicles.

“Nice boots,” I said.

The orderly was lying on his side, gasping for air.

“I never touched him,” I told the nurse.

Three goons in white scrubs appeared and surrounded me. Doc leaned in and bit one on the ear. The goon whirled around, but saw no one.

The second goon swung at me, but Doc caught his arm in both hands and shoved. The goon stumbled.

“Don’t look at me,” I told the third. “I’m harmless.”

He took a step forward. Doc kicked him in the knee.

I held out my arms. “I’m all yours,” I said.

The four men were crab-walking away.

“Hey,” I said. “I’m a man who needs help.”

Doc pulled a silver flask from his hip pocket and emptied it on the linoleum.

“Doc?” I said.

He dug out a box of matches and lit one on his fly.

“Now we can go,” he said. He bent and ignited the whiskey.

“Thank you, ma’am,” I told the nurse.

We walked out onto Marengo.

Fritz Bogott

Hurley Pulp: Desert Sunrise


he sun rose orange and shimmering over the desert. Dr. Hurley rose from the bed he had fashioned from his saddle and a bright, patterned blanket he had received in trade for a remedy some days back. His horse stood tethered to an impossibly tall cactus nearby. He shook off the night’s sleep and the morning’s dew and stood, stretching, pondering the day’s plans. Today he would ride into town, make himself known, and wait for them to come. With any luck, he would stand over his enemy’s corpse by sundown. He mounted up and rode off toward his fate.


Hurley Pulp: The Snake-Men of Orgel 7


f he could only lift his feet further from the ground, if the breath came just a little easier, he could make it to the top. Behind him, green-skinned creatures scrambled on multiple limbs and bayed like hounds. Above the rocky incline, the moons of Orgel 7 softly rose.

Keep moving, Seamus!

The mercenaries’ footfall grew louder, stirring up the dust and turning the air a dark magenta. As the incline leveled out, the engines of the Ulysses growled overhead. But a sea of reptilian skin was about to swallow him whole. Seamus closed his eyes, and thought of home.

Daniel Le Ray

Hurley Pulp: The Extraordinary Case of Dr Hurley’s Remains


he moon cast long shadows on the gravestones as Jonathan’s shovel hit something solid with a thunk. A look of triumph passed over his face. Now he’d prove all those believers wrong.

Immortality, ha!

He began prying the lid off, the nails popped out of the rotten wood easily. Jonathan took a deep breath, expecting to be overwhelmed by the stench of decay at any second. But it never came.

He stared at the contents aghast.

“It can’t be…”

All that remained of Dr Hurley was a perfectly preserved clutch of lilies and a bottle of his famous snake oil.

Louise Kane

Hurley Pulp: Emerald Eyes


e reminded me of Freud, with his beard and glasses. I had never seen eyes like his.

Nobody in the city had emerald eyes.

He had come to Calcutta to consult with my husband, Dr. Dibyendu Sur, about the
medicinal properties of neem.

I didn’t see much of Dr. Hurley. Often, he would work late into the night at the temporary
lab he had set up.

I became pregnant shortly after he left India. My husband was overjoyed and bought me
an expensive Benarasi silk sari.

It was a boy. He had his father’s looks. Dark hair. And, emerald eyes.

Sanchari Sur

Hurley Pulp: A Cure for What Ails Her


ow can I help?” Dr. Hurley had only glanced up at her before returning to the small burner by the window. The air was pungent – rosemary, vinegar, something warm – star anise?

She gazed at him, wondering why she had come, what this quickening in her heart – and elsewhere – meant.

“Miss? Are you all right?” She began to sweat.

“Yes… I… no, I don’t know…” She swayed and fainted.

When she awoke she was in his arms and the vapor had dissipated. Yet, her heart still pounded.

“Excellent – my Potionem Amoris works,” he whispered.